Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Using Repetition When Teaching Spanish to Children

This is part one of three of an article written by Brooks Lindner from Sonrisas Spanish for use here on Teaching Español.  I have used Sonrisas for the last year or so as our elementary Spanish curriculum and I have been very happy with it.  You can check out my end of the year post on Sonrisas here.


The creators of Sonrisas Spanish are huge advocates for repetition in second language learning. 

They say "that when we learn our first language, we hear a word about 75000 times before we know it. Granted this includes the years that we are pre-verbal infants, but it drives home the point of how important repetition is in language learning. Repetition benefits students by building vocabulary, comprehension, and verbal skills, and it increases students’ receptivity to new material. 

There are many strategies for using repetition when you are teaching Spanish to children. Sonrisas focuses on using three different kinds of repetition: daily repetition, periodic repetition, and annual repetition."

Daily Repetition

"The key to achieving daily repetition is in establishing a consistent routine. In doing this, there are certain phrases, dialogues, and vocabulary words that teacher and students use every day. Something as simple as taking role can provide daily repetition. Every day the teacher can take role by asking, “¿Veronica, dónde estás?” The student answers, “Aquí” or “Estoy aquí.” When students become accustomed to this routine, the teacher can begin to add and repeat new questions such as “¿Cómo estás?” or “¿Qué tal?” within the routine. 

If your lessons have a consistent structure then you can use the same language every day to transition to the different parts of your lesson. For example, if you do an art project each day, you can repeat the same language to indicate that it is time for art, or you can use the same question each day to ask who wants to help pass out supplies. Affirmative phrases used to support and praise students in their efforts are another way to get lots of daily repetition. Students will become accustomed to hearing these phrases, internalize them, and then start to use them."


Daily repetition is extremely important.  It doesn't matter what level you are teaching.  When I was teaching high school Spanish repetition was a tool I used and it works!  Make it fun by varying your tone of voice, asking questions, and using music.  I am now using repetition with my homeschool co-op class and I can see the benefits there too!

Books are a great way to accomplish this.  Most recently we read Froggy Se Viste.  In that book clothing vocabulary was repeated several times.  Don't just read a book once to your class.  Read it 2-3 or more times!

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